In prison, education is your best route to a better life

It’s the one time offenders are seen as learners and individuals with specific needs, says Erwin James

“Learning gives prisoners skills and qualifications, self-worth, and a supportive network of friends and colleagues, all essential for rehabilitation

Her name was Joan. She was a psychologist. “Education,” she said, “that is the direction you need to take in here.”

I was not convinced. “In here” was my first long-term high security prison and Joan was assessing my failings – which she called “needs”.

They were massive. I was almost 30 years old and had left school 15 years earlier with nothing more to show for it than a reinforced sense that I was not destined to amount to very much.

Now in prison for life, the idea that I should start the education process all over again, and in such adverse circumstances, was ludicrous, not to mention daunting.

“But I’m too thick for education,” were my exact words.

“Nobody is too thick!” she said, rather irritably. “Everybody has the ability to learn.”

It took a while, but eventually, with Joan’s words ringing in my ears, I took a tentative step towards the prison education department, initially only to please her, to acknowledge her good intentions and put an end to her gentle but firm cajoling.” Read the rest of the article


~ by Jen C. on 16/11/2009.

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